Ministry of Human Resource Development01-September, 2008 10:20 IST
Efforts to Eradicate Illiteracy in India


Post - Independent India inherited a system of education, which was characterized by large scale and intra-regional imbalances. The system educated a select few, leaving a wide gap between the educated and illiterate. The country’s literacy rate in 1947 was only 14 per cent and female literacy was abysmally low at 8 per cent. Only one child out of three had an opportunity for enrolment in primary schools. Educational inequality was aggravated by economic inequality, gender disparity and rigid social stratification.

            Eradication of illiteracy has been one of the major national concerns of the Government of India since independence.  A number of significant programmes have been taken up since Independence to eradicate illiteracy among adults. Some of the important programmes included:

¨       Social Education - implemented in the First Five-Year Plan (1951-56).  The programme gave importance to literacy, extension, general education, leadership training and social consciousness.

¨       'Gram Shikshan Mohim' - a movement for literacy in the rural areas started first in Satara district of Maharashtra in 1959 which was later extended to other parts of the state.  The programme aimed at imparting basic literacy skills within a period of four months.

¨       Farmer's Functional Literacy Project (FFLP) - started in 1967-68 as an inter-ministerial project for farmers’ training and functional literacy.  The project aimed at popularisation of high yielding varieties of seeds through the process of adult education in 144 districts.

¨       Non-formal education (NFE) - launched in the beginning of Fifth Five Year Plan for the age group of 15-25 years.

¨       Functional Literacy for Adult Women (FLAW) - started in 1975-76 in the experimental Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) project areas.  The scheme included a component which enabled illiterate adult women to acquire functional skills along with literacy, to gain better awareness of health, hygiene, child care practices and in the process facilitated attitudinal changes.

¨       National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) - launched on October, 2 1978.  This was the first programme in India taken up at macro level to eradicate illiteracy through project approach.  It was a massive programme aimed at educating 100 million non-literate adults in the age-group of 15-35 years within a time frame of five years.

¨       Rural Functional Literacy Project (RFLP) - the objectives of the scheme were: to impart functional literacy to all illiterate persons in 15-35 age group who are living in the rural areas by organising specified number of literacy centres in accordance with the norms and guidelines issued by the then Department of Education, Ministry of HRD from time to time.

¨       Mass Programme of Functional Literacy (MPFL) - launched on May 1, 1986 by involving National Service Scheme (NSS) and other students in colleges and universities.  During 1987-88, NCC Cadets from senior division were also involved in the programme.

National Policy on Education  - 1986

            National Policy on Education - 1986 and the Revised Plan of Action - 1992 gave an unqualified priority to the following three programmes for eradication of illiteracy:

(a)                 Universalisation of Elementary Education and universal retention of children upto 14 years of age.

(b)                 Systematic programme of non-formal education in the educationally backward states.

(c)                 National Literacy Mission to impart functional literacy to adults in the age-group of 15 - 35 years.

National Literacy Mission (NLM)


            National Literacy Mission was launched on May 5, 1988 as a Technology Mission to impart functional literacy to non-literates in the country in the age group of 15-35 years in a time bound manner.  This age group has been the focus of attention because they are in the productive and reproductive period of life. The National Education Policy - 1986, as modified in 1992, also has recognised National Literacy Mission as one of the three instruments to eradicate illiteracy from the country, the other two being Universalisation of Elementary Education and Non-formal Education.


            The success of the Ernakulam literacy campaign in 1990 provided the much-needed clue to the manner in which the Mission can move to achieve its desired objectives.  The campaign mode, which was adopted as the dominant strategy under the Mission, has proved to be the most appropriate in Indian conditions.  Through these campaigns not only the 3 R's are imparted to the beneficiaries, they are also made aware of their rights and responsibilities towards their family, society and the country so that they can play appropriate roles in the development of the country as a whole.  Thus the campaigns have been launched not only for spreading literacy but also for family welfare, immunisation, mother and child health care, conservation of environment, communal harmony, cohesion, national integration etc.


The Mission objective was to impart functional literacy to 80 million illiterate persons in 15-35 age group - 30 million by 1990 and additional 50 million by 1995. However, now the goal of the Mission is to attain a sustainable threshold literacy rate of 75 per cent by 2007.


            The Mission also takes into its fold children in the age group of 9-14, in areas not covered by Non-formal Education programmes to reach the benefits of literacy to out–of-school children as well.  The major thrust of these programmes is on the promotion of literacy among women, scheduled castes and tribes and backward classes.


            National Literacy Mission eventually aims at ensuring that the Total Literacy Campaigns (TLC) and their sequel, the Post-Literacy Programme (PLP), successfully move on to Continuing Education (CE), which provides a life-long learning and is responsible for the creation of a learning society.


Functional Literacy


            The adult literacy programme, defines literacy as the achievement of reading, writing and numeracy skills of a predetermined level.  However, the goal goes beyond the simple achievement of self-reliance in the 3 R’s, to ‘functional literacy’, which is the ability to apply what one has learnt, to daily life.


Functional Literacy implies:


·         achieving self reliance in literacy and numeracy;

·         becoming aware of the causes of their deprivation and moving towards amelioration of their condition through organisation, and participation in the process of development;

·         acquiring skills to improve the economic status and general well-being;

·         imbibing the values of national integration, conservation of the environment, women's equality, observance of small family norms, etc.


The acquisition of ‘functional literacy’ results in empowerment, a definite improvement in the quality of life and helps ensure that the majority of India can be participants in, and recipients of, the benefits of the information era.


Some basic facts about National Literacy Mission


·         The number of persons made literate is 124.64 million  (Annexure – I).


·         60% of the learners are female.


·         23% learners belong to SCs and 12% belong to STs.


·         597 Districts covered under Literacy Programmes (Annexure - II)


·         95 Districts under Total Literacy Programme..


·         174 Districts under Post-Literacy Programme.


·         328 Districts under Continuing Education Programme.


·         221 Jan Shikshan Sansthans set up.


·         26 State Resource Centres set up. 


·         Scheme-wise releases of amount to States: 2006–2007 (Annexure - III).


·         Funds released to States/UTs for Adult Education from 2001-2002 to 2006-2007 (Annexure – IV).


·         Expenditure incurred on various schemes under Plan and Non-Plan during 2006-2007 & 2007-2008 (31.3.2007) (Annexure  - V and VI)


·         State-wise Literacy Rate and Illiteracy Rates of the Age-group 7+ - 2001 (Annexure - VII)

·         State-wise Literacy Rate and No. of Literates of the Age-group 7+  - 2001 (Annexure - VIII)


·         Literacy Rates and Decadal Difference in Literacy Rates by Sex: 1991-2001 (Annexure - IX)


·         Decadal increase in Female Literacy Rates – 1991-2001 (Annexure – X).

Literacy Scenario in India (As per 2001 Census)


            Literacy in India has made remarkable strides since Independence.  This has been further confirmed by the results of the Census 2001. The literacy rate   has increased from 18.33% in 1951 to 64.84% in 2001. This is despite the fact that during the major part of the last five decades there has been exponential growth of the population at nearly 2% per annum.  Some of the important highlights of Census 2001 are given below:


Ø       The literacy rate in the country has increased to 64.84%, which reflects an overall increase of 12.63%, the fastest decadal growth ever. This is the highest rate since independence.


Ø       The male literacy rate has increased to 75.26%, which shows an increase of 11.13%.  On the other hand, the female literacy of 53.67% has increased at a much faster rate of 14.38%.


Ø       The male-female literacy gap has reduced from 24.84% in 1991 to 21.59% in 2001.  Mizoram has the smallest gap (3.97%) followed by Kerala (6.52%) and Meghalaya (5.82%).


Ø       All States and Union Territories without exception have shown increase in literacy rates during 1991-2001.


Ø       In all the States and Union Territories the male literacy rate except Bihar (59.68%) is now over 60%.


Ø       For the first time since independence there has been a decline in the absolute number of illiterates during the decade. In the previous decades, there has been a continuous increase in the number of illiterates, despite the increase in the literacy rates, but now for the first time the total number of illiterates has come down by 24.77 million.


Ø       The number of literate persons has increased to 560.68 million in 2001 thus adding an additional 201.40 million literates in the country.


Ø       Rajasthan has recorded the highest increase i.e.21.86% in the literacy rate among the States/UTs of India.  Literacy rate of Rajasthan in 7+ population in 1991 was 38.55% which has increased to 60.41% in 2001.

Ø       The state also recorded very good increase in the female literacy.  It was 20.44% in 1991, which has increased to 43.85% in 2001.


Ø       The female literacy rate of Chhattisgarh in 7+ population in 1991 was 27.52% which has increased to 51.85% in 2001.  Thus the rise in female literacy rate in Chhattisgarh has been to the extent of 24.33%, which is the highest among all the States/UTs of the country.


Ø       Madhya Pradesh also recorded a good increase in female literacy rate i.e.20.94%.  In 1991 the literacy rate of females was 29.35%, which has increased to 50.29% in 2001.


State Groupings


On the basis of literacy rate, State/UTs can be grouped as under:


v      High Literacy Rate (80% and above) – Kerala (90.86%), Mizoram (88.80%), Lakshadweep (86.66%), Goa (82.01%), Chandigarh (81.94%), Delhi (81.67%), A & N Islands (81.30%) and Pondicherry (81.24%).


v      Literacy Rate above national average (64.8%) and below 80% - Daman & Diu (78.18%), Maharashtra (76.88%), Himachal Pradesh (76.48%), Tamil Nadu (73.45%), Tripura (73.19%), Uttaranchal (71.62%), Manipur (70.53%), Punjab (69.65%), Gujarat (69.14%), Sikkim (68.81%), West Bengal (68.64%), Haryana (67.91%), Karnataka (66.64%) and Nagaland (66.59%).


v      Literacy Rate below national average (64.8%) – Chhattisgarh (64.66%), Madhya Pradesh (63.74%), Assam (63.25%), Orissa (63.08%), Meghalaya (62.56%), Andhra Pradesh (60.47%), Rajasthan (60.41%), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (57.63%), Uttar Pradesh (56.27%), Jammu & Kashmir (55.52%), Arunachal Pradesh (54.34%), Jharkhand (53.56%) and Bihar (47.00%).


Rural-Urban Gap (Literates) - Census 2001

                                                                         (In million)





All Areas







Rural Areas







Urban Areas





















Illiteracy Size


Ø       In terms of the size of illiteracy, eight States, viz. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharastra had more than 15 million illiterates each and accounted for 69.7 per cent of the illiterate population of the country.


Ø       The first four of these states - Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are in Hindi belt and have 42.76% illiterates.


Ø       Number of non-literates in these States - Uttar Pradesh (58.85 million), Bihar (35.08 million), Rajasthan (18.15 million) and Madhya Pradesh (17.97 million). 


Ø       In Bihar the number of illiterates increased from 31.98 million in 1991 to 35.08 million in 2001. 


Ø       Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have 10.21 million and 6.10 million illiterates in 2001.


Ø       It means that 48.12% of the non-literates reside in these six Hindi-speaking States. 


Ø       Other States having more than 10 million illiterates are: Orissa (11.61 million), Gujarat (13.31 million) and Tamil Nadu (14.65 million).


Female Literacy


            The Census 2001 final report indicates that India has made significant progress in the field of literacy during the decade and since the 1991 census. The literacy rate as per 2001 census is 64.84% as against 52.21% in 1991, whereas the female literacy had increased by 14.4 percentage points i.e. from 39.3% in 1991 to 53.7% in 2001.  Out of 864.79 million people in 7+ age group, 560.68 million are now literate out of which 224.15 million are women. Three-fourths of the male population and more than half of the female population are literate. The trends in literacy rate since 1951 are given below:



Literacy Rates in India (1951-2001)

Census Year




Male-female gap in literacy rate
































It is noticed that the female literacy rate during the period 1991-2001 increased by 14.38% whereas male literacy rose only by 11.13%.

The salient points relating to female literacy are:


  • The gap in male-female literacy rates has decreased from 24.8 percentage points in 1991 to 21.6 percentage points in 2001.
  • Kerala registered highest female literacy rate at 87.72% while Bihar registered the lowest at 33.12%.
  • For the first time there is a decline in absolute number of non-literates. The number of illiterates has reduced from 328 million in 1991 to 304 million in 2001.
  • During 1991-2001, the population in 7+age group increased by 171.6 million while 203.6 million additional persons became literate during that period.
  • Out of 864.79 million people above the age of 7 years, 560.68 million are now literate.
  • All the states and union territories without exception have shown increase in literacy rates during 1991-2001.
  • Kerala continues to have the highest literacy rate of 90.86% in the country with 94.24% literacy rates for males and 87.72% for females.
  • Bihar registered a minimum increase of 8.52 percentage points from 38.48% to 47.00%.


Total Population and Literacy in 15-35 age-group (Census 2001)


            As per Census 2001, the total population of India in 15-35 age-group is 347.67 million, out of which 179.18 million were males and 168.49 million were females. The number of non-literates in this age-group was 100.74 million, out of which 66.78 million were females and 33.96 million were males.


Total Population in 15-35 age-group















































Literates in 15-35 Age-group


























Literacy Rate






Non-literates in 15-35 Age-group





























Total Literacy Campaigns


            Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) has been the principal strategy of the National Literacy Mission (NLM) for eradication of illiteracy after the success of the campaign mode in Ernakulam district of Kerala. 


The TLC has certain positive characteristics like being area-specific, time-bound, participative, delivery through voluntarism, cost effective and outcome oriented.    Though the campaign emphasizes the achievement of predetermined levels of literacy and numeracy, there are other activities linked up with TLCs, such as campaigns for universal enrolment and retention in schools, immunization, conservation of environment, the small family norm, women’s empowerment, etc.


The TLC has an assumed duration of 12 to 18 months of which half is devoted to preparation and half to actual teaching/learning activity. In exceptionally difficult areas, the duration is suitably extended. Two activities, namely, environment building as well as monitoring and internal evaluation are continued throughout the campaign.


The initial activity of environment building is closely followed by a door-to-door survey to identify potential learners and volunteer instructors. Suitable primers (in 3 parts) are developed through the State Resource Centres for adult education in accordance with the new pedagogic technique of “Improved Pace and Content of Learning.”


The three-legged management structure of TLC consists of popular committees from district to village levels, the ZSS supported by the subject-specific sub-committees, and the officials of the district and block level administration.


Literacy campaigns are implemented by the Zilla Saksharata Samitis, usually headed by district collectors. Both the central and state governments participate in funding in the ratio of 2:1 for normal districts while the ratio of center and State share for districts under tribal sub-plan areas is 4:1.  Presently, per learner cost for a TLC is between Rs.90 to 180.

Post-Literacy Programme


            On the conclusion of Total Literacy Campaign (TLC), Post-Literacy Programme is implemented by the Zilla Saksharata Samiti for the period of one year.

            One of the major objective of a PLP is to enable the neo-literates to learn the application of literacy skills as a problem solving tool, so that learning becomes relevant to living and working. In the limited time available during TLC, it is not possible to dwell adequately on the functionality and awareness components of the programme.  Therefore, in PLP phase, these objectives take centre stage.


            One of the first tasks in a PL programme is what is known as ‘mopping up’ operation.  Those learners, who dropped out or could not achieve the NLM levels of literacy in the TLC phase, are enabled to achieve them through remediation or mopping up operation.


            To ensure that there is no time lag between the conclusion of the basic literacy phase and the start of post literacy programme, which could result in a regression of neo-literates, NLM has laid a great deal of emphasis on the planning and launching of PLP well in time.


            Post literacy specifically aims at remediation, retention and consolidation of literacy skills in the first phase through guided learning.  In the second phase, learners are provided with a variety of supplementary reading material and library services to help them continue learning through self-directed processes.


            The NLM has emphasized the integration of skill development programme with PL programme to enable the neo-literates acquire skills for their economic self-reliance.


            The PLP is to be regarded as the preparatory stage for Continuing Education Programme in the district.  The duration of PLP, which was initially for two years, has now been restricted to one year.  The present per learner cost for PLP has been enhanced to Rs.90-130 per annum.


Continuing Education Programme


            The Government of India had approved a new scheme of Continuing Education for Neo-literates in December 1995.  It provided a learning continuum to the efforts of the Total Literacy and Post Literacy Programmes.  The scheme was revised in November 1999, which retained the basic structure of CECs and further expanded its scope and content.


            Under the scheme the main thrust is given to setting up of Continuing Education Centre (CEC) which will function as a focal point for providing learning opportunities such as library, reading room, learning centre, training centre, information centre, charcha mandal, development centre, cultural centre, sports centre and other individual interest promotion programme centre. One CEC is set up for a population of 2000 to 2500.   For a group of about 10-15 CECs, there is a Nodal CEC, which monitors and oversees the activities of those cluster of CECs. Besides the provisions of setting up of CECs, the scheme of Continuing Education also provides the opportunities to undertake diverse activities involving alternative and innovative approaches to cater to the needs of the learners.  Taking into account local conditions and the resources available, various target specific activities such as Equivalency Programmes (EPs), Quality of Life Improvement Programmes (QLIPs), Income Generating Programmes (AGPs) and Individual Interest Promotion Programmes (IIPPs) could be organized for specific groups of beneficiaries.


            The programmes of Continuing Education are being implemented under the aegis of Zilla Saksharata Samitis.  ZSSs along with district, block and gram panchayat level committees are responsible to oversee the programme in the entire district.  


             Each CEC will be annually provided assistance of Rs.25,000/- as recurring and non-recurring grant, and nodal CEC Rs.45,000/- as recurring and non-recurring grant with an additional provision of house rent for few selected centres where no government or community building is available to run the centre. In the revised scheme a provision of Assistant Prerak has been made who will be primarily responsible for conducting literacy classes during continuing education programme.


            The scheme envisages 100 per cent assistance to the States for the first three years of the implementation. The State Governments are required to share 50 per cent of the expenditure during the 4th and 5th year of the project, and thereafter take over the total responsibility for the programme. 


            The State Literacy Mission Authorities (SLMAs) have been authorized to sanction the projects for CE related to their states.  Where SLMA has not been created the State Government is required to examine and recommend their CE projects to the NLMA, which then discusses and sanctions the projects in its Project Approval Committee (PAC).  Grants are placed at the disposal of SLMA/State Governments on basis of the project for onward transmission to the respective ZSS or the implementing agency.


Residual Illiteracy


            Although the total literacy campaigns took the form of a mass movement and spread throughout the country, in many cases a number of campaigns stagnated due to natural calamities, lack of political will, frequent transfer of collectors, etc. Restoration of stagnating projects is a priority area. Despite success of literacy phase, there are still pockets of residual illiteracy. Priority would continue to be given to cover the districts uncovered so far and those having female literacy rate below 30%.  Focus continues on women and those belonging to disadvantaged groups.


            The funding ratio between the Centre and State Government is 2:1 with the exception of districts under the tribal sub-plan where the ratio is 4:1. Implementing agencies are now allowed to incur expenditure on basic literacy activities along with post-literacy and advanced phase of Continuing Education.


            Project Residual illiteracy (PRIs) has been sanctioned to 141 districts in various States by NLM.  The state-wise list is given in Annexure-II.                                                                                    


Special Focus on Low Female Literacy Districts


            According to 2001 Census, 47 districts in the country have female literacy rate below 30%. Most of these districts are concentrated in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa. Special innovative projects are being taken up to raise the level of female literacy in these areas. Special efforts are being made to target female Panchayati Raj functionaries and make them literate.


            Since this problem is most acute in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, to begin with, 8 low female literacy districts in U.P. have been brought under an accelerated peogramme of female literacy, which was implemented through a network of about 100 NGOs. As per evaluation conducted in 8 AFLP districts of Uttar Pradesh, it has been reported that out of enrolment of 24.53 lakh female learners, 17.10 lakh learners have been made literate.


In Bihar, a different model has been adopted to cover the 15 low female literacy districts.  Zilla Saksharata Samitis of these districts have involved Panchayati Raj functionaries, Women Volunteer Teachers and Women Self Help Groups in the implementation of the AFLP in low female literacy districts.


Accelerated Female Literacy Project (AFLP) was sanctioned to nine low female literacy districts in Orissa. They were: Gajapati, Nupada, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Bolangir and Sonepur. Out of 122 NGOs identified for implementation of AFLP, 117 have come forward to participate in the programme. It has been reported that 9.10 lakh female learners have been identified, out of which 9.03 lakh were enrolled. It has been reported that under Accelerated Female Literacy Projects in Orissa, 5.80 lakh female learner have completed primer III.


            The National Literacy Mission is giving focus to 47 districts, which have female literacy below   30 per cent as per 2001 Census. The list of low female literacy districts is given at Annexure - XI.


NLM’s Contribution to Female Literacy


            Basic education and literacy have been major concerns in several developing countries because literacy is the foundation of human capital for a better quality of life and the very wealth of the nation so far as economic, political and social development is concerned. 


            Literacy is a fundamental component of attaining better living standards for all.  The ability to read and write is closely co-related with an individual’s capacity for income generation. The proportion of a nation’s population that is literate points to the reservoir of human resource potential available for employment and national capacity building.  The percentage of women literates gives point to multiplier effect that can be tapped through the family, young and old as a strong social economic unit.


             The provision of educational opportunities for women has been an important part of the national endeavour in the field of education since India’s independence. Though these endeavours did yield significant results, gender disparity persists with uncompromising tenacity, more so in the rural areas and among the disadvantaged communities.  It is with this concern that the Government of India launched the National Literacy Mission in 1988 for the eradication of adult illiteracy. Total literacy campaigns launched since 1988 under the aegis of the National Literacy Mission have adopted a strategy that lays considerable emphasis on making efforts to:


·               Create an environment where women demand knowledge and information, empowering themselves to change their lives.

·               Inculcate in women the confidence that change is possible, if women work collectively.

·               Spread the message that education of women is a pre-condition for fighting against their oppression.

·               Highlight the plight of the girl child and stress the need for Universalization of Elementary Education as a way of addressing the issue.


One of the most striking features of India’s campaign against illiteracy has been its focus upon, and involvement of, women.  From the information available around 60% of the learners are women and considerable numbers of the volunteers are also women and young girls. The gender gap is slowly but surely closing.  Nonetheless, India’s achievements to-date cannot mask the daunting obstacles still to be overcome. 


Some of the significant ways in which the literacy campaigns have contributed to the promotion of female literacy and women’s empowerment are as follows:


·               Heightened Social Awareness

·               Increased School Enrolment

·               Increase in Self-confidence and personality development

·               Gender Equity and women’s empowerment

·               Status in the family

·               Educational Equality

·               Women as entrepreneurs

·               Household savings and access to credit

·               Health and Hygiene


Arun Ghosh Committee – Evaluation of NLM


            In 1993 Government set up an Expert Group chaired by Late Prof. Arun Ghosh, which undertook the Evaluation of Total Literacy Campaigns in India.  The group submitted its Report in 1994.  Its major recommendations are as follows:


·         to stop formal declaration of total literacy achievements by States/ districts.

·         target of 80% success unrealistic and 55% to 60% success to be considered as good progress.

·         to enhance involvement of Panchayat Raj Institutions and the elected representatives of gram panchayats and panchayat samities in literacy programmes.

·         to decentralize the procedure for sanction of project.

·         to tighten evaluation procedures.

·         to cover the age group of 9-14 also under TLCs, where non-formal education is not in operation.


The Report of the Expert Group identified certain strengths and weaknesses of the programme which are given below:




·         It is more of a movement than a programme.

·         There has been an overwhelming impact on women.


·         Total Literacy Campaigns have led to a positive impact on caste and communal relations.

·         The Literacy Movement has generated a demand for Primary Education.

·         Literacy Campaigns have activated concern for developing a just and humane society.

·         They have led to sensitization of the bureaucracy.

·         The launching of TLCs has placed literacy high on the national agenda.




·         The quality of teaching has suffered in some places where there has been excessive preoccupation with literacy skills alone.

·         Fragile literacy skills need to be consolidated through more effective post literacy measures.

·         Some campaigns have been launched without adequate preparations.

·         Progress is patchy and doubtful in some States.

·         Poor progress in urban areas.


State Literacy Mission Authorities


             The present approach is towards decentralization of financial and administrative powers to the State Literacy Mission (SLMAs).   The State Literacy Mission Authorities are bodies registered under the Societies Registration Act with an SLMA Council, headed by the Chief Minister and Executive Committee, headed by the Education Minister or the Chief Secretary/Education Secretary. The State Director of Adult/Mass Education is the Member-Secretary of EC, SLMA. In some States the State Education Secretary is the Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee of SLMA.


            The SLMAs are empowered to approve projects for literacy campaigns   and   for Continuing Education programme with funds placed at their disposal.


            A provision of recurring grant to all SLMAs: The recurring grants to the SLMAs would be equivalent to Rs.12.50 lakh, Rs.10.00 lakh and Rs.7.50 lakh annually for category   A, B and C SLMAs respectively. The State with a non-literate population of 100 lakh or above are in category ‘A”, States with non-literate population between 15-100 lakh are in category ‘B’ and States with non-literate population below 15 lakh are in category ‘C’.


            The SLMAs are responsible to oversee the progress of TLC, PLP and Continuing Education Programme in the States. SLMAs have been set up in 25 states - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura,  Sikkim, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.


Scheme of Support to NGOs


            The scheme of support or Assistance to Voluntary Agencies in the field of adult education was designated and started in the First Five Year Plan and was continued with the expanded scope in the subsequent plans. The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 has stipulated that non-governmental and voluntary organizations, including social activist groups, would be encouraged and financial assistance provided to them subject to proper management.  The Programme of Action (POA) to operationalise NPE, 1986, inter-alia, envisaged relationship of genuine partnership between the Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and stipulated that Government would take positive steps to promote their wider involvement by providing facilities to them to participate for the selection of NGOs and grant of financial assistance to them.


            Keeping in view the above back-drop, National Literacy Mission visualized that diverse methods would be employed for identification of suitable NGOs, procedures of granting financial assistance to them streamlined, and the NGOs may be involved on a massive scale for spread of the programme by taking responsibility for eradication of illiteracy in well-defined areas through field projects.  The scheme of Grant-in-Aid formulated in 1978 and 1982 was, therefore, modified with a view to bringing it closer to the objectives and strategies of NLM.  The modified scheme, described as “Central Scheme of Assistance to Voluntary Agencies – Partners in Literacy Action”, was put into operation in 1988 under NLM. Simultaneously, steps were initiated by the Department of Education to make the scheme result-oriented, time-bound and cost-effective.


            In view of the widening horizon of association of NGOs with Adult Literacy Programmes over the period of time, the Scheme is now named ‘Scheme of Support to Non-Governmental Organisations in the field of Adult Education.


            The objective of the scheme is to secure extensive involvement of NGOs in National Literacy Mission. The approach and process of providing financial assistance to NGOs is based on the objectives and characteristics of NLM strategy.


            Under the scheme of support to NGOs, voluntary agencies are encouraged and financial assistance is provided for activities such as:


·               Running total and post literacy and continuing education programmes with the objective of total eradication of illiteracy in well-defined areas;

·               Undertaking resource development activities through establishment of State Resource Centres (SRCs);

·               Organising vocational and technical education programme for neo-literates;

·               Promoting innovation, experimentation and action research;

·               Conducting evaluation and impact studies;

·               Organizing symposia and conferences, publication of relevant books and periodicals and production of mass-media support aids.


With more and more districts having completed the post-literacy programmes, the NGOs have to diversify the scope of their activities.  They are expected to take up area-specific continuing education programmes for life-long learning.  This will include skill development programmes for personal, social and occupational development.


State Resource Centres (SRCs)


In order to provide academic resource support to literacy and adult education programmes, State Resource Centres (SRCs) have been established throughout the country.


             Since the inception of the National Literacy Mission (NLM) in 1988, the number of SRCs has risen to 26.   Most of the SRCs are run by Voluntary Agencies, while a few are functioning under the aegis of the Universities.  For administrative purposes, SRCs have been classified into two categories, namely, A & B.  ‘A’ category SRCs get grants-in-aid with a ceiling of Rs.60 lakh per annum, ‘B’ category SRCs with a ceiling of Rs.40 lakh per annum.   SRCs are graded on the basis of workload and number of years of functioning.  In bigger States, such as UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, more than one SRC has been set up to facilitate literacy and adult education activities.


            With the gradual expansion of Total Literacy, Post Literacy and Continuing Education Programmes, new resource centres will be opened keeping in view the need to provide adequate and good quality technical resource support to the field programmes.  New resource centres will be opened under the aegis of NGOs. All the SRCs are directly registered bodies under the Societies Registration Act with their own Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations.


            Following factors will be considered for setting up new Resource Centres:


·         Size of the adult education/literacy programme in the state.

·         Number of projects in progress

·         Projects proposed to be taken up during 10th Plan period under various schemes of Adult Education e.g. Scheme of Literacy Campaigns and Scheme of Continuing Education.

·         Density of population of one resource center to serve 3 to 5 million learners.


SRCs are given annual grant for programme activities as per their action plan.  One time grant is given to cover all the requirements of infrastructure facilities. Govt. of India representative/nominee of JS (AE) & DG (NLM) participates in the meetings of Board of Management and Executive Committee of the SRC for monitoring and reviewing its performance and to enable it to take appropriate decisions for the successful implementation of literacy programmes in the State


Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs)


The scheme of Jan Shikshan Santhan (JSS) or Institute of People’s Education (IPE), previously known as Shramik Vidyapeeth was initially launched as a polyvalent or multi-faceted adult education programme aimed at improving the vocational skill and quality of life of workers and their family members. The programme was evolved to respond to the educational and vocational training needs of numerous groups of adult and young people living in urban and industrial areas and for persons who have been migrating from rural to urban settings. Now, with the emergence of millions of neo-literates, thanks to the total literacy campaigns launched across the length and breadth of the country and the transformation that has taken place in the economic and social set up over the years, the role and scope of these polyvalent educational institutes have widened manifold.


            In the changed scenario, the focus of JSS is now shifting from industrial workers in urban areas to the numerous neo-literates and unskilled and unemployed youth throughout the country.  Now, these Sansthans are to act as district level resource support agencies especially with the organization of vocational training and skill development programmes for the neo-literates and other target groups of the continuing education scheme.  Hitherto, the JSS scheme was restricted to urban/semi-urban industrial areas.  Now their area of operation has been extended to rural areas also. At least 25% of the beneficiaries of JSS should be neo-literates.


In the 10th Five-Year Plan (2002-07), 90 more Jan Shikshan Sansthans have been sanctioned with the result the total number has increased to 198. During 2007-08, 23 JSSs have been sanctioned. The total number of JSSs sanctioned till October 2007 is 221. The list of States/UT wise is as follows:


S. No.


Number of JSSs

























































































The Jan Shikshan Sansthans offer a large number of vocational training programmes from tailoring to computer courses. In the year 2006-07, 17.53 lakh beneficiaries had been covered under various vocational training programmes, activities and other activities conducted. 


The Jan Shikshan Sansthans are set up under the aegis of mostly non-governmental organizations and their administrative and financial affairs are managed by respective Boards of Management.  In order to enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy, these institutes are required to be registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 with their own Memorandum of Association, Rules and Regulations.


Experience has shown that Jan Shikshan Sansthans that are working in the voluntary sector are more successful than those in other sectors as they enjoy better functional autonomy.


The Government of India provides annual lump-sum grant to these institutes on a set pattern.  The funds provided by the government are to be spent under different heads, the ceiling for which have also been prescribed in the guidelines prepared by the government.  There is no interference of the government in the affairs of the Sansthans except monitoring their performance and also ascertaining before releasing further grants whether the funds are being utilized as per the guidelines issued by it.  The Government of India representative in the Board of Management of the Institute facilitates taking appropriate decisions and guides the institution in organizing various programmes and activities in a better way.


The performance of Jan Shikshan Sansthans is evaluated every three years by reputed evaluating agencies empanelled with National Literacy Mission.  So far, 116 Jan Shikshan Sansthans have been evaluated.   

Directorate of Adult Education

The Directorate of Adult Education, a subordinate office of the Department of Elementary Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development has been functioning as the National Resource Centre for Adult Education and Literacy Programmes in the country. It is the `functional arm' of the National Literacy Mission, which is responsible for monitoring, and evaluation of various schemes launched under the aegis of the Mission. The Directorate is also entrusted with the task of developing model teaching learning materials for the learners and neo-literates and harnessing all kinds of media facilities for furtherance of the objectives of the National Literacy Mission. It provides professional, academic and technical guidance for the effective functioning of the Jan Shikshan Sansthans (Previously known as Shramik Vidyapeeths). Selected Jan Shikshan Sansthans were also provided financial assistance for implementation of Population and Development Education activities.

The main activities of various Units of the Directorate are:

  • Provision of academic and technical resource support for implementation of various programmes of the National Literacy Mission
  • Development of teaching -material
  • Organisation of training and orientation programmes keeping in view the needs of ongoing programmes in the field.
  • Monitoring of the progress and status of literacy campaigns.
  • Production of media and harnessing of all kinds of electronic, print, traditional and folk media for furtherance of the objectives of the National Literacy Mission.
  • Printing and publishing of different Literacy Campaigns success stories
  • Coordination, collaboration and networking with all the resource centres and other organizations and agencies.
  • Analysing the findings of the Evaluation and Research activities concerning the literacy campaigns.
  • Professional, academic and technical guidance concerning literacy activities and monitoring of Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs).
  • Implementing "Population and Development Education in Post Literacy and Continuing Education" through State Resource Centres.



            Monitoring and evaluation are regarded essentially as tools for the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of a system and are designed to make the objectives operationally more realistic in order to ensure effective implementation of adult education programmes. The broad strategy of implementation of adult education programmes as conceived in the National Literacy Mission, emphasizes the need for having an efficient management and monitoring system.  Starting from just a few districts in 1991-92, the literacy campaigns have now spread to around 597 districts of the country. The remaining districts will be covered shortly.  Additionally, in each of the districts completing the basic literacy phase, diverse kinds of post literacy and continuing education programmes are taken up.


            Earlier, the Directorate of Adult Education had been making strenuous efforts to collect information and data directly from the districts to monitor the progress of literacy campaigns but extension of the programme to almost the entire country has made it imperative to design a new system which will not only ensure reliability but also facilitate the steady flow of information needed by the Mission.


            While designing the new monitoring system it was observed that the earlier system had excessive emphasis on target setting and very often that tended to end up in quantitative information only, with practically no basis for knowing whether that information was cross checked, verified and could be considered fully reliable.  Apart from this, the system of operation was found to have several deficiencies, which needed to be eliminated.  In order to make the management information system more reliable it was decided to decentralize the system of monitoring.


            Accordingly, the State Directorates of Adult Education were entrusted with the full responsibility for close monitoring of literacy campaigns in each State.  For this purpose, the Director of Adult/Mass Education in each State has been asked to hold Monthly Monitoring Meetings (MMMs) of ZSS Secretaries to review the status and progress of literacy campaigns.  These meetings are attended by the Secretaries of ZSSs (Zila Saksharata Samitis), Directors of State Resource Centres (SRCs), Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) and the representative of the nodal voluntary agency in the State.  In these meetings, the status of literacy programmes in each district is discussed and corrective measures needed to improve the pace and progress of implementation is suggested.  These meetings also serve the purpose of securing better coordination amongst implementation agencies, SRCs, JSSs and State Directorates of Adult Education.


            The Monthly Monitoring Meetings (MMMs) are held in the State Directorates on a pre-fixed date every month. The major states hold these meetings for two days. The State Directorates have been told to ensure the presence of all ZSS Secretaries in these meetings.  MMMs are being utilized to discuss in detail the status of the literacy campaign in each district.  The focus of discussion is not merely on obtaining up-to-date statistical information but also on assessing the qualitative aspects such as problems encountered in accelerating the pace of literacy campaign, efficacy of the corrective measures initiated in the past, activities planned for the coming month etc.


            Monthly Progress Report of TLC/PLP in a two-page proforma submitted by the Secretary, ZSS of each district is carefully scrutinized so as to scrupulously avoid furnishing of incorrect and incomplete information. It has been impressed upon the State Directorates that no meaningful review and analysis of the status of literacy campaigns is possible unless the State Directorates ensure furnishing of correct and up-to-date information by the districts.  The State Directorates are required to expeditiously consolidate the information received from all the districts and prepare a consolidated state summary in the prescribed format.  They also devise appropriate mechanisms for monitoring the follow-up action on the recommendations made and decisions taken during the MMMs, for example, setting up of task forces, sending of joint teams with SRC representatives to the districts, etc.


            The officers of the DAE/NLM also attend these Monthly Monitoring Meetings at the State Directorates and provide necessary guidance and assistance.


            The monthly progress reports received from the State Directorates of Adult Education are fed into computers in the Directorate of Adult Education.  These reports are processed and analyzed to know the strengths and weaknesses of the programme implementation and also to finally assist in programme implementation and policy formulation.  On the basis of the monthly progress reports received from the State Directorates, national level reports on the status of literacy and post literacy campaigns are brought out periodically.


            The objective of monitoring the programme is aimed not only at providing information essential for financial audit or programme audit, but also to provide feedback to the implementation level and decision-making level and support to policy formulation level.  Bringing out such reports is also part of our efforts to strive for total transparency of the programme before the public so that public accountability is achieved through wider process of   social audit.


            The members of Executive Committee of NLM, journalists, literacy consultants, departmental officers and also some non-officials are also visiting the on-going campaign districts/projects from time to time.  The visit reports received from such officials and non-officials also form part of our monitoring system.



            The launching of the National Literacy Mission on 5th May 1988 marked a new beginning in the efforts to place ‘Literacy for All’ on the national agenda.  Over a period of time, the concerned collectors/deputy commissioners declared a number of districts fully literate but when these districts were evaluated, the actual literacy rate was not found to be commensurate with the concept of full literacy.


            The expert group constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development headed by Late Prof. Arun Ghosh, a former member of Planning Commission in 1993, submitted its report in September 1994.  It was indicated in this report that the phenomena of declaring districts as fully literate are not desirable.  The various evaluation studies conducted by evaluation agencies showed marked differences between the levels of literacy ‘claimed’ and the ‘actual’ levels achieved.  Therefore, there was a need to tighten the system and the then existing practice of external evaluation. The expert group suggested   a framework including objectives, approach and design for concurrent as well as external evaluation of literacy campaigns.  They recommended that the concept of total literacy may be abandoned and that a literacy rate of 55% to 60% achieved in a low literacy district may be considered a satisfactory achievement.


In an effort to tighten the external evaluation of TLC campaigns and standardize evaluation procedures, the National Literacy Mission organized a number of regional workshops in which the experts from well known Institutes such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, participated.


            As a result, standardized guidelines for concurrent and final evaluations were developed.  As it stands today, evaluation within the NLM is seen as a three-step process.


            Self-evaluation of learning outcomes of the enrolled learners has been built into the body of the three primers.  Each primer contains three tests. This self-evaluation enables the learners to perceive his/her own pace and progress of learning and heightens his/her motivation.


            Every Total Literacy Campaign district is also subjected to concurrent evaluation (process evaluation) and final evaluation (summative evaluation).


The concurrent evaluation is undertaken when at least 50% of the enrolled learners have completed Primer – 1.  The Chairman, Zilla Saksharata Samiti (ZSS) then approaches the State Directorate of Adult Education for nominating a panel of three evaluation agencies from outside the district out of which the district chooses one for conducting the concurrent evaluation.  The information generated through this can be used to consider mid-term correctives, if necessary.

            The final evaluation of TLC campaign is undertaken when at least 60% of the enrolled learners have completed Primer–III or are nearing to complete Primer-III.   The ZSS approaches the NLM through the State Directorates of Adult Education to assign to it an agency from outside the State to carry out the learners’ evaluation.  A minimum sample of 5% of the total number of learners or 10,000 (whichever is less) is selected for evaluation by a random sampling method.  At least 70% of the sampled learners have to be tested.  The criteria for passing are that each learner has to achieve at least 50% marks in each of the abilities (reading, writing and numeracy) and 70% in the aggregate.


            Similarly, the districts in post-literacy phase are also being externally evaluated.  The guidelines for the final evaluation of post-literacy programme (PLP) have also been standardized.

            A series of workshops were organized to finalise the external evaluation guidelines of Continuing Education Programme. These guidelines have been published.  External evaluations of CEP by NLM and Appraisals by SLMA/SDAE are to be carried out as per the following time schedule:

            After 2 years                              External Evaluation

            After 3 years                              Appraisal Report by SLMA/SDAE

            After 4 years                              External Evaluation

            After 5 years                              Appraisal Report by SLMA/SDAE

            After 7 years                              External Evaluation

Thus, Continuing Education programme districts are to be evaluated as per the schedule given above.

            So far about 424 Total Literacy Campaign districts and 175 Post Literacy Programme districts have been evaluated by the external evaluation agencies. 31 districts have been externally evaluated during continuing education phase. 

The North East

            The group of eight States i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura jointly form the North Eastern Region (NER).  All these States are highly inaccessible hindering communication and are extremely remote. All the districts of these States have been covered under literacy campaigns.

            Mizoram has a literacy rate of 88.80% as per 2001 Census and having a literacy rate above the national average, it was sanctioned the continuing education programme directly in all the 8 districts.  The details of the various projects sanctioned in the NER States are as follows.





Total No. of districts

Literacy  Rate

2001 Census

Districts covered under


Made literate

(in lakh)










Arunachal  Pradesh








































































FROM 2002-03 TO  2006-2007

(AS ON 31-3-2007)

                                                                        (Rs. In lakh)










Arunachal Pradesh






































































Status of Literacy Among SCs and STs

            As per the 2001 Census, the literacy rate of Scheduled   Castes population aged 7 years and above was 54.69 per cent.  The male and female literacy rate being 66.64 per cent and   41.90 per cent.  There are 62.4 million SC illiterates out of which 62% (38.7 million) are females. About 47.5 million SC illiterates (76.1%) are residing in the following eight states: Uttar Pradesh (15 million), Bihar (7.2 million), West Bengal (6.4 million), Andhra Pradesh (4.9 million), Rajasthan (3.7 million), Karnataka (3.4 million), Madhya Pradesh (3.1 million) and Tamil Nadu (3.8 million). About 1/3rd of the Schedule Caste illiterates were residing in Hindi speaking low literacy states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

            The literacy rate of Schedule Tribes has increased by 17.5% in 2001 (47.10%) from 29.60% in 1991. The male and female literacy rates being 59.17% and 34.76%. The increase in ST female literacy rate increased by  16.57 per cent in a decade. There are 36.4 million ST illiterates in India out of which 21.2 million being female forming 61 per cent of the total ST illiterates. The following are the states having more than 3 million Schedule Tribe illiterates population: Madhya Pradesh (5.7 million), Orissa (4.2 million), Chhatisgarh (3.8 million), Jharkhand (3.4 million), Gujarat (3.2 million), Maharashtra (3.1 million) and Rajasthan (3.1 million). The number of Schedule Tribes illiterates in these seven states was 26.5 million, which is 73 percent of the total Schedule Tribe illiterates in the country.

            Bihar is the state having lowest female schedule castes and schedule tribes literacy rate i.e. 15.58 per cent and 15.54 per cent respectively.

The literacy rates for Total Population, Scheduled Caste Population and Scheduled Tribe population as per 2001 census are given in Annexure-XII and XIII.

Special Literacy Drive in 150 Districts

On the basis of Census 2001, it was noticed that there are 150 districts in the country, which have the lowest literacy rates. A list of 150 districts is given in Annexure-XIV.






(Release ID :42161)